Authors we have read:
F Scott Fitzgerald
E M Forster
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
What we've read, when we read it ...
Emily St John Mandel: Station Eleven (2015)
Genre: dystopian thriller of a decidedly literary bent. Place: Toronto at the start of a 'flu pandemic set to kill most of the world's population. Readers will be won over by Mandel's nimble interweaving of the fates of her characters and they will want to believe to the very end that doomsday can be survived. "An ambitious and addictive novel" The Guardian.
Katherine Mansfield: Selected Stories: Prelude (1918), Bliss (1920)
"The nervous edge to the stories, their power to intrigue and disturb, explains why they have never gone out of print since they were first published" Prof. Angela Smith, University of Stirling.
Jessie Burton: The Miniaturist (2015)
A well-received debut, set in Amsterdam, 1686. 18 year old Nella, new wife of illustrious merchant Johannes Brandt is made a present of a cabinet sized replica of their home.....
Ben Aaronovitch: Rivers of London (2011)
Peter Grant is an ordinary London copper, until the day he brings in a ghost as a witness and is recruited to a special unit of the police, where they deal with the odd and otherworldly. There's a lot going on in London that ordinary people never suspect. Crime novel meets fantasy and very funny.
George Eliot: The Mill on the Floss (1860)Set in the 1820's, the novel spans around 15 years in the lives of brother and sister Tom and Maggie Tulliver, starting with their childhood. Devoted until young adulthood, conflicts arise between them, centred partly on her affection for a young man, Philip Wakem, who is physically disabled. Deeply moral, passionate, complex as the heroine, this tragic tale is a must-read Victorian classic.
See 'Rereading: George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss' published in The Guardian 150 years after the book was first published.
Read The Mill on the Floss at Project Gutenberg.
Rhidian Brook: The Aftermath (2014)
A tough emotional thriller, set in Hamburg in 1946, where Rachael Morgan arrives with her son to be reunited with her husband, a British colonel charged with rebuilding the ruined city. They are to live in a grand house, but Rachael is stunned to discover that they will be sharing it with the previous owners, a German widower and his troubled daughter. Treachery is followed by vengeance, but somewhere there is also room for love…
Superb. Conjuring surprise after surprise (Guardian)
Han Kang: The Vegetarian (2015) (translated into English by Deborah Smith)
Winner of the 2016 International Man Booker Prize, this novel deals with a courageous woman's tenacious assertion of her own identity within a repressive society. Apparently settled in her ordinary marriage, the unremarkable Mrs Cheong decides one day to throw all the meat out of her freezer. This challenge to her husband's expectations of domestic order and tradition soon starts a chain of emotional and physical violence. Bracing, visceral, shocking, ripe with potent images(The Guardian, Jan 2015)
Ursula Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness (1970) 256 pages
This novel won the Hugo and Nebula awards in 1970. Le Guin is considered one of the foremost writers of science fiction and fantasy. In 2014, Le Guin was awarded the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation, a lifetime achievement award. Her work is categorized as 'soft SF' because her novels, whilst involving the protagonists in interplanetary adventures, focus more on sociological speculation than on 'hard' science.
In this novel, an emissary from a supraplanetary body visits the planet Gethen or 'Winter'. Here, the harsh climate has caused humans to evolve differently in one important aspect of life, but otherwise, they have their society, culture, and politics, which the emissary now has to navigate.
Jean Rhys: Wide Sargosso Sea (1966) 192 pages
A powerful imagining of the back-story of Jane Eyre's 'madwoman in the attic', Bertha Rochester, Jean Rhys's brief, beautiful masterpiece is a classic study of betrayal and a seminal work of post-colonial literature.
Born into the oppressive, colonialist society of 1930s Jamaica, white Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who falls for her innocent beauty and sensuality. After their marriage, disturbing rumours circulate which poison her husband against her. Caught between his demands and her own sense of belonging, Antoinette is driven towards madness, and her husband into the arms of another novel's heroine.
Ali Shaw: The Trees (2016) 496 pages192 pages
A compulsive and imaginative post-apocalyptic novel in the vein of Pan's Labyrinth and Station Eleven.
An ancient forest springs up everywhere through the built environment returning the world to its primeval beginnings. The story follows four people as they struggle to survive in a world where nature fights back - from the award-winning author of The Girl with Glass Feet.
The Trees is a stunning and vivid examination of the relationship between humans and the environment ... Shaw masterfully brings every detail of the book to life. A wonderfully imaginative story, but also a compelling social commentary (Herald)
An English ecological version of The Road (Guardian)
Almost CGI levels of spectacle as Tarantino meets Middle Earth (Financial Times)
Lionel Shriver: The Mandibles, A Family 2029 -2047 (2016) 400 pages
Shriver’s new book. There are plenty of novels about the end of the world, but Lionel Shriver has had a different idea. The devastation in this novel is monetary – its effect is to destroy the US economy so completely that the impoverished hordes are fleeing to Mexico. You might disagree with Shriver about the seminal causes of the impending dystopia: climate change, the rapacious greed of corporations is what may destroy us. Shriver is more wary of the government, at first inept, then intrusive, and always demanding higher taxes. She makes an interesting case, however, and manages to twist the plot over and over so that unexpected events happen all the way to the end. (Taken from The Guardian article by Jane Smiley, 18 May, 2016). A powerful, clear-thinking writer you listen to.
Margaret Elphinstone: Voyageurs (2003) 480 pages
A highly recommended tale of love and adventure in the Canada of the early 19th Century. A young Quaker woman goes missing in the Canadian wilderness. Her brother leaves his farm in the Lake District to go in search for her. We follow his journey, his encounters with Indians and the Canadian winter.
Margaret Elphinstone is considered a Scottish writer, although she was born in Kent, and studied in Queens College in London and the University of Durham. She was until recently Professor of Writing in the Department of English Studies at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow . She did extensive study tours in Iceland, Greenland, Labrador and the United States, living for eight years in the Shetland Islands. Her themes are aspects of life in Northern countries.
In 2015 ...